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leveling a toilet

We have an old house and the toilet does not flush as well as it should. Water comes out OK, but it doesn't always go down easily. I suspect replacing the flushing mechanism would help, but the toilet is on an un-level floor with the rear higher than the front. Using a level and a ruler its slightly more than a 1/4 inch off (3/8th, 5/16th?).
Is this enough of a distance to affect the flushing?
Is there a product to help me shim the toilet or do I need to make a shim out of plywood and a plane?

A. Spruce
Re: leveling a toilet

The plane of the toilet won't affect it's flushing ability, only it's comfort to the user. Rather than making shims, you'd be better off buying nylon toilet shims that won't crush or rot if exposed to moisture. Also, if you try to level the toilet, you'll need to replace the wax seal underneath it.

1 - Purchase new wax seal and hold down bolts. I prefer the seals with a neck, I think they work better, though you can use a seal without the neck as well.
2 - Turn off water supply to toilet. Flush then plunge as much of the excess water out of the bowl. Disconnect water supply.
3 - Remove the hold down nuts on either side of the toilet.
4 - Lift toilet and set it on a garbage bag in the tub/shower. Lay the toilet back so you can clean off the base of the toilet where the new ring will reside. The toilet has to be clean and dry for the new seal to stick.
5 - Clean the toilet flange on the floor. If the toilet bolts are in good condition and you can get the hold down nuts back on, you can reuse them. If not or you're unsure, replace them with the new set.
6 - Set the toilet without the new seal and level it with the shims. Place the shims in at least 6 even clock positions around the toilet. Tape the shims to the floor to hold them in place until the toilet is permanently set.
7 - Remove the toilet being careful not to disturb the shims. Install the new wax seal and carefully reset the toilet, applying even downward pressure with a slight wiggle to settle the toilet into the wax seal and onto the shims.
8 - remove the shims one at a time and trim to be flush with edge of toilet.
9 - Tighten the hold down nuts until they are just snug plus about 1/2 a turn more. Gently wiggle the toilet and continue to tighten the nuts a little at a time until the toilet ceases to wiggle.
10 - Reconnect the water supply and turn it on. Flush toilet, check for leaks
11 - You can caulk around the base of the toilet if you wish, but leave a gap in the caulk around the back. Caulking is optional, not a necessity.

While the toilet is off, you may want to flip it upside down and backflush it with a garden hose or toilet auger to make sure there is nothing lodged in the trap.

Re: leveling a toilet

I believe you have a partially clogged drain or a missing or clogged vent.

Re: leveling a toilet

So you guys seem to believe that making the toilet completely level is not that important? If it makes no difference and we can't tell the difference without a level, then I'm not going to complicate things.
I intend to replace the current wax ring anyway, so I will have to investigate the pipe for clogs when its off.

Re: leveling a toilet

I agree I don't think leveling the toilet is all that important except as was already said for comfort. I still would want a level toilet though and not one that wasn't level. As for shimming if you forget the plastic shims or they fall in the drain by accident then get yourself some pennies. Our plumber uses pennies most of the time and since they are copper will last for a very long time. We did have a problem with our old toilet getting rid of waste and bought a toilet with a Flushmate valve in it. Our toilet is a Gerber Ultra Flush and it makes a great deal of noise with that Flushmate valve but gets rid of all of the waste. Best of all too no more sweating toilet as it is a tank within a tank. Not sure if you can buy the valve by itself or not,perhaps you can. I do know though that several manufacturers are now using this same valve. So if the drain is fine and the vent is o.k. too consider this type of toilet with this particular valve. One caveat though is if they turn the water off for repairs you can't fill the top of the tank with water as this valve is sealed. Probably more expensive to replace too I can't really say as we have had this toilet for almost four years I guess and so far no problems. Good luck to you!:)

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